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Brook House is designed on a prison model with cell accommodation.

Older News

Welcome to our archive of the older news items.

16 March 2015
GDWG response to the Detention Inquiry report

Please find a link to GDWG’s response to the report by the Parliamentary Inquiry into the use of Immigration Detention below. GDWG, along with many other organisations and individuals, submitted evidence to the inquiry, and are pleased to see some strong recommendations in their subsequent report. Primary amongst these is the recommendation that there should be a 28 day time limit on detention.
Response to Detention – Inquiry Report
A link to the full report can be found by clicking here

2 March 2015
Book Now for Refugee Tales

Refugee Tales is a walk in solidarity with refugees and detainees to celebrate Refugee Week. Taking inspiration from the Canterbury Tales, prestigious writers are collaborating with refugees and ex-detainees to write Tales of the refugee experience. Booking is now open both for the walk: and for the final reprise of the Tales at the Hawth Theatre on 21st June 2015:

Walkers can book to join for the entire walk from Dover to Crawley or for single days and each evening of the journey, contemporary writers will read refugee tales in free performances. The final evening of the walk when the walkers will arrive in the Hawth Theatre to be welcomed by the Host – Yasmin Alibhai-Brown – is a ticketed event (£15 and £10 concessions). Writers working on Refugee Tales include Ali Smith, Marina Lewycka, David Herd, Chris Cleave, Inua Ellams, Abdulrazak Gurnah, and Patience Agbabi.

See you there!

7 November 2014
Refugee Tales Launch

Today is the launch of The Refugee Tales. Book a place on the walk to celebrate Refugee Week next year through the website Follow @RefugeeTales on Twitter. ‘Like’ The Refugee Tales on Facebook.

Caroline Lucas MP pledged her support for the walk on launch day “This is a very special project, with an important symbolic message. It provides a chance to pause, and walk a while in another’s shoes. Around the world, millions of men, women and children are displaced from their homes; forced to flee the traumas and injustices of war, poverty and disasters. Refugee Tales ensures they are remembered, reminds us that those millions are all individuals just like us – and that we can each do something to help.” Miriam Margolyes gave her support “Now, more than ever, we should send loving support to the modern Pilgrims, who remind us of the struggles and hardship people suffer to come to Britain, to find a new and safe life.”

Those walking the entire walk will be offered the option to stay with the walkers in simple accommodation, vegetarian food is provided and the cost to walk the entire route with entry to evening performances of the Tales is £165. Day walkers can sign up for £5 a day. The walk ends with The Ex-Detainees Tale and a reprise of many of the Tales performed at The Hawth Theatre in Crawley on 21st June at 7.30pm. We invite participants to walk their support for refugees in the UK and be part of a positive news story created from the real stories that Gatwick Detainee Visitors Group visitors hear.

29 October 2014
The Launch of The Refugee Tales is coming soon!

Not long now until the launch of The Refugee Tales: A walk in solidarity with refugees and detainees from Dover to Crawley via Canterbury. We’re walking our support for Refugee Week in 2015. Our walk is eighty miles over eight days with one rest day from 13 to 21 June 2015. It follows the route of the old Pilgrim’s Way and is modelled on The Canterbury Tales. At each of the stopping points on the walk there will be readings and performances of tales connected with the refugee experience commissioned from well-known writers and poets. By walking from Kent to Surrey along an ancient track, we will collectively establish the fact that journeys are integral to our landscape, that they provide the stories out of which our shared histories emerge. This is a walk reminiscent of the Canterbury pilgrims and it is inspired by journeys made by countless refugees, many on foot fleeing war and persecution. Details of how to join the walk or how to volunteer to support the walk will follow. Watch this space for the launch of The Refugee Tales.

10 October 2014
Mayor of Crawley visits GDWG

Our thanks to the volunteers, staff and outreach committee who welcomed the Mayor of Crawley, Councillor Brenda Smith, to The Orchard this week on Tuesday. Thanks everyone for cooking the delicious lunch and for sharing experiences of visiting people enduring indefinite detention and detained at Brook House and Tinsley House. Thank you to the ex-detainees who travelled from London to describe their experiences in detention. Your reflections were vivid and compelling. Thank you to the Mayor for visiting Brook House to meet a man from Sri Lanka detained over a year and for giving him encouragement during a long visit. Thank you to the Mayor for a positive response to our description of the Refugee Tales project to celebrate Refugee Week next year.

17 June 2014
We celebrated Refugee Week

We celebrated Refugee Week with comedy, music and drama…all held together by compere Paul Kerensa. After a fiery start from punk poet Attila the Stockbroker, Sajeela Kershi from the comedy circuit shared her experience visiting a detainee in Brook House then John Ryan entertained the full Studio with hilarious observations of modern life.

The first half closed with Ifield Community College and Drummers conducted by Patrick Allen and comprising fourteen nationalities from Crawley’s diverse population. The Chagossian drummers who have been settling in Crawley since 2004, amazed the audience with a piece they had written just that week. The theme of Refugee Week “Our Shared Future’ puts a spotlight on refugee children at a time when fifty per cent of the world’s refugees are children and young people.

Second half highlights were Mike ‘Dr Blue’ a folk, roots and blues guitarist and singer and ‘itinerant fringe nomad’ Sameena Kershi. Young people from Hazelwick School then took to the stage for a powerful performance that had grown from a drama workshop with ex-detainees. Their drama ‘Island’ brought many to tears. And just when Paul Kerensa was winding up the show he was swept from the stage with a wave of singers storming from the audience to perform Labi Siffre’s ‘Something Inside so Strong’ flashmob style. The Orchard Choir sang with conviction as a fitting finish to a celebration of Refugee Week.

31 March 2014
The Second Longest Day

‘The Second Longest Day’ is coming to The Hawth Studio on 10 June 2014 at 7.30pm. Come along and see Paul Kerensa, the writer of ‘Miranda’ and other great comedy from Sajeela Kershi, John Ryan and Sameena Zehra. Music from Mike ‘Dr Blue’ and Ifield Community College Choir and Drummers. Bridges Arts Group and students from Hazelwick School will bring thought-provoking drama to the stage and we are delighted to announce that Attila the Stockbroker is completing the line-up, back by popular demand. Look out for Sheila Hancock, and be ready for a few surprises too!

This is an eclectic mix of comedy, poetry, music and drama celebrating Refugee Week and the contributions that refugees make to our lives. Tickets are £15 with £10 concessions available from The Hawth Box Office : 01293 553636. But this event is selling fast and will soon be ‘Returns Only’!

30 January 2014
Community banner making project

GDWG is proud to present a community banner making project. Volunteers, detainees in the art class in Tinsley House, ex-detainees and school children from Pound Hill Junior School in Crawley have been making a quilt on the twin themes of showing the hand of friendship and also reflecting the journeys that refugees and asylum seekers make to seek sanctuary in the UK.

The banner will be on display in Crawley during Refugee Week and organisations interested in sewing their logos onto the border of the banner to show their support for GDWG should contact Anna (

1 October 2013
HMIP report on Brook House finds a 'mixed picture'

After an unannounced inspection in late May and early June 2013, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, reported on a mixed picture at Brook House. While he acknowledged there had been some improvement and that it remained a safe place, he said the overall assessment was finely balanced. They found particular problems with the provision of legal advice and the slow pace of immigration casework and high levels of self-harm caused by frustration. You can read the HMIP press release and the full report via links on our Brook House page.

8 July 2013
Civil Service in Crawley

On Sunday July 7th two representatives from GDWG were invited to the Friary Church in Crawley to join the Mayor, Councillor Bob Burgess, in a service of celebration and commitment. The service was attended by mayors from other boroughs, members of the council and representatives of local groups and charities. A Filipino choir welcomed the guests and children from St Francis School sang and read with sensitivity and exuberance. The service was a celebration of diversity, the Mayor delighting in the many communities represented in the Borough. The children decorated a Crawley Tree with leaves representing the thirteen districts of Crawley. At the Reception afterwards it was a good opportunity to talk about GDWG’s work with senior representatives of local Councils.

13 June 2013
Songs from Near and Afar

Fundraising Concert in aid of the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group. Local vocalists will be singing songs of separation and togetherness.

Saturday 6th July 2013 at 7.30pm – Reigate Park Church, Park Lane East, RH2 8BD. Songs from opera, folk, Lieder and songs from the shows.

Download the flyer here

13 March 2013
In the words of HMIP, GDWG 'very good support to detainees' in Tinsley House

HMIP congratulated Tinsley House ‘one of the best centres we have inspected’ and wrote that ‘detainee feedback on staff was exceptional’. ‘The Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group provided very good support to detainees’.

Of interest to visitors,…‘rules in the visits hall should be less restrictive and should be applied more consistently’ (item 4.10). Some concerns reported by detainees to GDWG were addressed including ‘routine handcuffing for external appointments’. The Report noted ‘referrals and assessments in relation to whether detainees’ mental health or physical health could be adversely affected by detention should be consistent and multidisciplinary’ (2.90), and that there are ‘significant shortcomings in mental health provision’.

This was the follow-up inspection of Tinsley House IRC (8 – 11 October 2012) by HMIP published on 27 February 2013. Report is available here.

7 December 2012
Christmas Cards on Sale

Following a Christmas card design competition held in association with the art class in Tinsley House, we have two designs of Christmas cards on sale from the office in packs of ten.

The ‘ChristmasTree’ design pictured here contains the words ‘Wishing you a Merry Christmas’ and the second design features the word ‘Peace’ and a dove on a blue background with the words ‘Wishing you Peace at Christmas’ inside the card.

These packs of cards cost just £3.50. Email if you would like to reserve some for collection. We send Christmas wishes to all our supporters and volunteers.

5 December 2012
Young supporter takes our message to the House of Lords

Following on from Parliament Week 19-25 November which encouraged young people to take an interest in the parliamentary process, we thank Lord and Lady Dholakia for hosting one of our young supporters. He took a copy of our report ‘A Prison in the Mind’ to share in the House of Lords.

Our young ambassador was able to sit in the Chamber during Questions and enjoyed a tour learning about the history and traditions of the House of Lords. He left a copy of ‘A Prison in the Mind’ with Lord Dholakia and took away fascinating insights to share at his school through the school magazine. Thanks to our Patron for the welcome and interest.

21 November 2012
Mayor of Crawley visits GDWG

The Mayor and Mayoress of Crawley, Councillor Keith Blake and Councillor Sally Blake, came to ‘The Orchard’ yesterday for lunch with GDWG volunteers and an ex-detainee who described life in Brook House from his own experience. This was followed by their first visit to a detainee in Brook House where they learned first-hand about A’s journey from Eritrea and his forthcoming removal directions to Italy this week. The Mayor and Mayoress expressed interest in the work GDWG is doing and asked us to pass on congratulations to our volunteers on all their visits which we are delighted to do! Thanks to the volunteers who prepared the lunch and hosted our guests.

5 November 2012
GDWG release report looking at the mental health implications of long-term detention

‘A prison in the mind’ looks at the effects that long-term detention has had on a small sample of detainees held at Brook House IRC. Through interviews with both detainees and GDWG visitors, the study comes to the conclusion that while detention has a negative effect on detainees’ mental state, it may be inappropriate to label these symptoms as mental health problems, and instead could be seen as a normal reaction to the circumstances that long-term detainees find themselves in. The report makes a series of recommendations on the subject, primarily that those with diagnosed mental illnesses should never be detained. You can read the full report here.

25 October 2012
GDWG helps celebrate Black History Month

GDWG congratulates Crawley Black History Foundation on a successful celebration of Black History at the Hawth Theatre on Saturday 13 October. Thanks to Black History for the invitation to join the celebration. GDWG along with Crawley Campaign Against Racism, Mary’s Meals and the Barbados Tourist Office presented their stall to the Mayor of Crawley in the foyer of the theatre. Artwork by Pound Hill Junior School on the GDWG stall on the theme of ‘Showing the Red Card’ to racism brought us new supporters and thanks to everyone in the audience who came to find out about the work that we do. It was a great show in The Hawth theatre with special mention to Ifield Community College Choir and the Chagossian Drummers. Thank you Marilyn!

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